A Springtime with Ninjas Volume 1 by Narumi Hasegaki
I had high hopes for this title because I greatly enjoy both ninjas and shoujo manga, but I was underwhelmed by A Springtime With Ninjas. I think part of my disappointment was because I was hoping that the heroine and hero of the manga were both ninjas, but it turned out to be a decently executed manga that had some funny moments with a very conventional clueless rich girl heroine who was unfortunately not a ninja at all.
Benio is a sheltered rich girl who lives with the a horrible curse – she has to marry the first man who kisses her. She’s trapped in her home, at the mercy of a procession of tutors and she longs to go to school and experience normal life as a high schooler. Her uncle announces that he’s found a friend for her, and produces Tamaki, a flirtatious ninja bodyguard. Benio immediately finds him offputting, cherishing the memory of a friendship she had as a child when a boy who came over to play with her. Surprising no one who has read a shoujo manga before, it is pretty clear that Tamaki is her long lost friend.
Benio and Tamaki eventually get clearance to go to school, and he fends off Benio’s would-be suitors with his elite ninja skills. There were some amusing lines of dialogue like “The sanctity of this princess’s lips bears more weight to me than your lives.” Also, it was fun to see random high school club presidents suddenly manifest ninja abilities. The art is attractive, and the action scenes are clear and easy to follow. But there isn’t really any distinct quality or style to the art that would help offset storylines that kept giving me a sense of deja vu. I ended up putting down this manga being reminded of all the other shoujo manga that I’ve read that cover some of the same story tropes but end up being a little bit more funny, or have a more interesting take on ninjas or sheltered heiresses.